Moving Parts

I have said this many, many times, but I am going to say it again because it is just so important. One of the most crucial aspects of my photography is showing motion. If something moves in real life, I like to make that known in my image. I have been doing a lot of flying object photography lately (real aircraft as well as RC aircraft.) Each and every flying object I photograph moves. In the case of this RC helicopter, there are two main parts that move. You have the main rotor (green disc) and the rail rotor (orange disc). This is accomplished by using a slow shutter speed (1/100th of a second in this scenario.) That slow shutter speed brings up a whole other set of problems. The biggest being unwanted motion blur. Especially in the case of RC craft, the vibrations are very compact since the overall size of the craft is smaller. When photographing real aircraft these vibrations are less pronounced because they are spread out across a much larger area. Whenever you have a moving object, strive to represent that motion in your image.

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Simple Click

A simple click of a stand of clouds at sunset. The clouds started reaching towards the ground, and the setting sun added some nice color and contrast to them. I used the stand of pines in the foreground as an anchor point in the frame. A few slider adjustments in ACR and Nik Color Efex Pro 4 Detail Extractor, and voila! The final image.

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Alisha Weissman Memorial Hockey Tournament

I photographed a few games that were a part of the Alisha Weissman Memorial Hockey Tournament this past Saturday. It is held to remember Alisha Weissman, a Battle Ax team member who passed away in a motorcycle accident a few years back. There were 2 games going on at once, so I was shooting both games, and it seemed like I missed action in the other game when I was shooting the other one. That’s how it goes though! The image above was one of my favorites from the evening. The team in white is the Lady Blades and the team in black is the Battle Axes. You can see the puck just skirting by the post as the players crashed to the net. The Lady Blades ended up winning the game 2-1 in OT. It was nice to get back to doing some hockey photography. It really is a challenging sport to photograph, with the biggest limitation being the scuffed up glass that is almost always in front of you.

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More Practice with RC’s

My Dad flew his RC chopper once again yesterday, so I went to get a little more practice photographing it. As I stated in a previous post, it is quite the challenge due to its small size and quick movements. Unlike a real helicopter which you can normally predict its path, the RC heli is all over the place. This time I shot with a tripod which seemed to work well.

I worked on trying to include some of the elements on the ground to indicate a relative location of the heli. I was shooting with a shutter speed of 1/250th to attempt to blur the rotor blades. I was able to get a full arc in the tail rotors, but the main rotors are only about a third of an arc. All work in progress!

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RC Aircraft Photography

Another new genre of photography for me! Did my first RC helicopter shoot today. My Dad has gotten into the hobby of RC helicopter building/flying. This is his Blade 300x on its maiden flight. About 5 minutes later she was sidelined, as she took a pretty hard whack to the ground and broke the tail rotor assembly. Shooting RC aircraft seem to be harder to shoot then the real thing, as they are smaller and harder to track. They also have to be closer to fill the frame. To give you an idea of the size of the chopper, the rotor blades are 22 inches in diameter. It’s not small when compared to other RC birds, but certainly not the big boys I am used to shooting!

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Nikon D4s

Nikon D4s

Nikon D4s

Nikon just recently released their new flagship camera body, the D4s. At first I was a little skeptical that it would be much better than the D4, but by the specs, it does seem to have quite a few improvements. The biggest one being is it boasts the new EXPEED 4 processor, which is supposedly 30% faster than the old EXPEED 3 that is in the D4. The high ISO performance is also upgraded. The results at high ISO values are pretty incredible. They have many comparison images between the D4 & D4s at high ISO’s, so if you are interested in that give it a quick google search. The D4s now does 11 fps, while the D4 does 10 fps. I honestly think the camera was released to compete with the Canon 1Dx, which is a beast of a camera for sports shooting, which is what I think the D4s is aimed at.

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Choosing the Right Lens

Nikkor 24mm f/1.4

Nikkor 24mm f/1.4

If you are in the market for a new lens, one of the hardest things to do is choose a lens out of a bunch of choices. I am a Nikon shooter, so I am going to use Nikon lenses as an example, but the same thought process can be used with Canon. Nikon currently has 5 lenses that include the focal length of 24mm in production. They range from $660 to $2,000. These lenses are:

  • Nikkor 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 – $660
  • Nikkor 12-24mm f/4 – $1,100
  • Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 – $1,886
  • Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 – $1,900
  • Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8 – $2,000

All of these lenses are great pieces of glass, and include that perfect focal length of 24mm. I own the Nikkor 12-24mm f/4, and it is a great lens. I use it almost exclusively for all of my aircraft statics. But you may be asking what makes these lenses different if they all include the 24mm focal length? The big thing is that f-stop. The second is the quality of glass. The 10-24mm is a relatively lower-end lens, and the price reflects that. It has a variable aperture, but still gets the job done. The 12-24mm is next in line in terms of price. It truly is a great lens, and makes the perfect wide angle lens for someone looking for a lens that is a little lighter than that big 14-24mm.

Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8

Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8

The lens I would recommend to you if you asked me which one to buy would be the 24-70mm. That focal range is extremely useful. It comes in handy in pretty much every scenario. Next is the 24mm f/1.4. This is by far my favorite lens I have ever shot with. I got to shoot with it for an evening at NECCC in 2011 paired with a Nikon D3s. It is a lens that is at the top of my wish list. It is incredibly sharp, and that f/1.4 aperture makes it a great low light lens. Here is a sample shot taken with it:

The final lens we have is the 14-24mm. It is the most expensive, and also one of the most cumbersome to use. It is heavy, and doesn’t take a filter since the front element is curved, so you have to be extremely careful using it. That also means you can’t add polarizing filters or neutral density filters, which could be a deal breaker for some of the landscape shooters out there.

Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8

Nikkor 14-24mm f/2.8

The biggest factor in choosing a lens is your budget. I would tell you to buy the best lens your money can buy. Every single one of the lenses I have discussed are great lenses, but each one gets better as the price goes up. If there are any questions on any of these lenses, or if you would like me to do another post on another set of lenses, shoot me an e-mail.

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Backing-Up Those Precious Files

G-Drive 1TB External Drive

G-Drive 1TB External Drive

I recently had my computer’s internal hard drive fail on me, so I thought I would do a quick post on my system of backing up files. I use 5.5 TB’s of storage, that is including my internal hard drive. I replaced the stock HD (which was the one that failed) in my mid-2010 iMac with a 1TB Seagate Hybrid Drive, which essentially offers a taste of the speed of a SSD while maintaining the price of a regular HD. I back-up my photo and video files to 3 separate hard drives. One is a Maxtor 500GB external drive, the second is a G-Drive 1TB external drive, and the third one is a WD MyPassport 1TB portable external drive. The portable drive is stored at a remote location in case something were to happen to the rest of the drives in my house.

Maxtor 500GB Drive

Maxtor 500GB Drive

I also back-up my entire system using a program called SuperDuper! to two separate external drives. SuperDuper! backs-up your entire system and then makes the drive bootable. I back up to another G-Drive 1TB drive which is kept on my desk, as well as a WD MyPassport for Mac which is kept at a remote location.

WD MyPassport for Mac

WD MyPassport for Mac

This system keeps all of my files safe in the event of a hard drive failure, and if one of my back-up drives were to go down, all of the files are backed up on another identical drive. If I were beginning to develop a system from scratch, I would go out an buy 3 or 4 of the WD MyPassport drives. They perform great, are small, and are relatively cheap at $70. The small size allows you to easily transport them, and also take up less space sitting on the desk. However, if you are looking for a quicker transfer speed or larger storage capacities, check out the G-Drive products.

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Polished Aluminum on Trees?

Another one from my shoot Friday morning. The trees had a layer of ice on them, and the sun just lit them up and made it seem as if they were made of polished aluminum. The awesome clouds made it a simple shot to compose.

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Blue Skies & Tall Pines

I got up to the Saugatuck Reservoir in Weston this morning to do some shooting. The sun was out and there was a brilliant blue sky, so the photography was pretty hot. I was able to find a nice stand of pines along the shore of the reservoir that had collected snow nicely, and the light was perfect on them. For the first image, I aimed back at the sun, using an aperture of f/22 to create the star burst effect from the sun. It can be tricky to do this because the solar flares will pop up everywhere if your lens has any dust on it. Luckily the sun didn’t hit the front element here too much, as there weren’t any solar flares present in this image. I used the shadows in the foreground as leading lines to take you into the frame.

Then of course there is the front lit version. There were many stubby dead branches towards the bottom of the tree that collected snow. The blue skies made it easy to pick a composition, as all I had to do was point the camera up towards the sky, and that was my shot. I made sure to not cut off the bases of the foreground trees, as they are the main part of the image.

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